ST. PETERSBURG — Hundreds of parking spaces near downtown, the EDGE and Grand Central districts could come online soon, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays and the city of St. Petersburg have an agreement to allow the public to park on six lots surrounding Tropicana Field on nongame days. According to city documents, the Rays requested help on enforcing parking violations and the areas surrounding downtown need parking for customers and employees.
The City Council last month took the first step of creating a new definition, “city-operated property,” in city code to allow for parking enforcement on private property. The issue goes before the council again on April 6, along with the agreement between the city and the Rays to open up that parking to the public.
“With nearly 200 businesses, thousands of residents, thousands of employees and millions of visitors, we only have 80 park-and-pay spaces in the district,” Roger Curlin, the new executive director of the EDGE Business District Association, told the City Council last week. “This change in the ordinance and the working relationship between the city and the Rays will add several thousand pay-and-park spaces adjacent to the district on nongame days.”
Though the code changes go into effect five days after the City Council takes action, the city and the Rays still need to coordinate operational planning, and the Rays will need to install signs, Evan Mory, the city’s transportation and parking management director, wrote in an email.
He said he is not sure when the lots will be ready for use but “both parties are eager to get started soon.”
For now, the lots designated for use by the general public on nongame days are 4, 5, 8 and the east side of 6 and 7. The Rays will establish pay-by-phone zones and install signs on the lots designating where parking is available. The Rays would keep all parking revenue and the city would keep money made off parking violations.
The Rays will set the parking rate and the public can pay through the ParkMobile app. The city gave advice on what to charge, and Mory said the Rays likely will go with a “market-based and reasonable” rate to encourage people to use the lots.
A spokesperson for the Rays did not immediately return a request for comment.
A draft ordinance allows for towing. In the case of an expired parking session or failure to pay, the total fine is $25. Some of the penalty funds St. Petersburg’s school crossing guard program.
The agreement between the city and the Rays leaves open the possibility of adding more parking lots.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to strike language that originally listed surcharges as penalties. There is a fine of $25 for an expired parking session or failure to pay for parking.